Cabin Utroba

Sarieva – Residency is a program of Open Arts Foundation in collaboration with Sarieva / Gallery, Plovdiv which gives practical, financial and organizational support to an artist selected through an open call to work in a new comfortable environment, to create and present works and projects, to collaborate with experts in the field. The residency combines artistic, research and educational activities in an innovative way. The artist works in an established art institution and in the creative environment of an always developing art city like Plovdiv.  Melania Toma (b. 1996) grew up in Italy and is currently living and working in London. She is the third resident of Sarieva – Residency.

Melania Toma was born in Italy and lives and works in England.  After completing her BA in Art History and Curatorial Studies at Ca’Foscari University in Venice, she moved to London. In 2021 she graduated from Chelsea College with an MA in Fine Art. Her exhibition history includes exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, London and projects including “Nocturnal Creatures ” with the Whitechapel Gallery, London. In October she will participate in the 17th Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland.

Melania is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on textiles and weaving. At the core of her work, the artist-in-residence explores the subjective and intersubjective ‘we’, carrying within it age-old traditions, customs and ancestral memory. She goes back to the most ancient roots of man and communities, tied to rituals and superstitions. Collecting, selecting and reassembling found objects, organic and inorganic matter, are the operative tools in Toma’s work.

Melania Toma about Cabin Utroba:

“Cabin Utroba” is an interactive installation exploring the bowels of the proto-Bulgarian mysticism through the eyes of a transient. The project originated with the disquisition of ancestral symbology through hallowed caves, holy stones and magic tools created by mankind. The research took place in various locations such as Karadjov Kamak, Utroba Cave, Dupchen Kamak and various abandoned villages. After collecting several “treasures” from the past, comes the process of connecting them all together in a contemporary environment. The gallery will become a place of transformation and rebirth; a sanctuary dedicated to the Wombof – the Great Goddess of Fertility.
Utroba is the cave, the space where every human being experiences a strong relationship with Mother Earth. The umbilical cord represents the medium between the visitors and ancestral memory which will be emblematized by the woolen thread. Entering the Uterus is the starting point for the sewing of a new meaning in which our personal voice is followed by one of these textile-hybrid creatures and objects: the spirits of the Land. Ancient practices for cure and healing are merged in a narrative where the domestic objects and found materials are carriers of a collective symbology and the natural mystic spaces illustrate a collective home for memories.

Program of Open Arts Foundation in collaboration with Sarieva / Gallery

The project is realized with the financial support of the National Culture Fund.


Italian works with Bulgarian traditions and culture for an exhibition at Sarieva, Pod Tepeto, 12.10.2022

Melania Toma – residential artist of Open Arts Foundation and Sarieva Gallery, BNT 2, Liniya Kultura, 27.10.22

Todorov, Svetoslav. How Plovdiv became an inspiration for the artist Melania Toma, Capital, 3.1.23